Friday, October 2 by JerryFoster
Let’s re-visit the great war between the executive branch (NJDOT) and the legislative (NJ Title 39) and judiciary (NJ Supreme Court Polzo v Essex County ruling) branches with regard to bicycling on the shoulder. Everybody does it, but is it legal?
NJDOT’s excellent 2011 Bicycling Manual recommends “riding on the right side of the road or on the shoulder.” NJDOT’s circa-1996 Introduction to Bicycle Facilities notes, “Advanced bicyclists are best served by bicycle compatible streets and highways which have been designed to accommodate shared use by bicycles and motor vehicles.” Paved shoulders are considered one form of bicycle compatible roadway.
So NJDOT encourages it, but does that make it legal? NJ Title 39:4-14.1 states: “Every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle.”
Wait a minute, isn’t a bicycle a vehicle? Not in NJ – human-powered devices are specifically excluded from the legal definition of vehicle in 39:1-1: “”Vehicle” means every device in, upon or by which a person or property is or may be transported upon a highway, excepting devices moved by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks or motorized bicycles.”
So what, it’s the same thing while riding in the shoulder, right? Not really, as the shoulder is specifically excluded from the “roadway” legal definition in 39:1-1: “”Roadway” means that portion of a highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the berm or shoulder.” So a cyclist riding in the shoulder would not be granted all the rights and responsibilities as the driver of a vehicle.
Aren’t we nitpicking? Motorists can’t legally drive in the shoulder anyway – cyclists can’t very well have the same rights and responsibilities as the driver of a vehicle while riding in the shoulder, as it would also be illegal.
Exactly! If a cyclist has the same rights/responsibilities to follow the rules of the road, s/he should only ride in the travel lane, not in the shoulder.
NJDOT’s lawyers, presuming to encourage only legal cycling behavior, may well point to the sentence structure of 39:4-14.1. It implies that every person riding a bicycle *outside* the roadway (e.g. on the shoulder) would not have the same rights/responsibilities as the driver of a vehicle, but that doesn’t make it illegal, since it’s not explicitly prohibited, like it is for drivers of a vehicle in 39:4-82.
Under this interpretation, it’s a cyclist’s choice whether to ride in the roadway, and be legally bound to follow all the rules of the road, or live free on the shoulder. Just think, no rules, no responsibilities – bike against traffic, blow the wrong way through stop signs, it’s all legal if you’re a cyclist on the shoulder. Under this interpretation, cyclists have an implicitly legal option to ride on the shoulder that isn’t offered to drivers of vehicles.
So which is it? Illegal or legally available w no rights/responsibilities? According to the NJ Supreme Court in Polzo v Essex County, “Bicyclists do not have special privileges on a roadway’s shoulder. Indeed, a bicycle rider is directed to ride on the furthest right hand side of the roadway, not on the roadway’s shoulder. The Motor Vehicle Code does not designate the roadway’s shoulder as a bicycle lane.”
So, as far as the law with regard to cyclists is concerned, the NJ Supremes ruled that a cyclist “is directed” to the roadway, “not on the roadway’s shoulder.”
The Polzo ruling was in 2012 – why is NJDOT still encouraging cyclists to ride on the shoulder? Shouldn’t shoulders with sufficient space be designated as bike lanes? What ever happened to the Complete Streets policy?
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Friday, September 18 by JerryFoster
In our 5th annual survey, WWBPA volunteers counted 360 bicyclists and pedestrians at 5 locations around the train station on Wednesday September 16, 2015 between 5-8pm. Last year the count was 343, but the numbers are not directly comparable, since we counted at only 3 locations last year. Comparing the same locations at the same time slots, biking and walking decreased 5% over last year. At least we had beautiful fall weather again this year.
Once again we participated in the National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project, an effort to accurately and consistently measure usage and demand for bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure.
Our 2015 findings:
- Cranbury/Wallace/571 (Rite Aid) – 25 bike, 112 walk
- Scott/Alexander (Arts Center) – 26 bike, 90 walk
- Vaughn/Alexander (bus stop) – 19 bike, 39 walk
- Station/571 (Rep. Holt Headquarters) – 5 bike, 6 walk
- Wallace/Alexander (WW lot) – 11 bike, 27 walk
Total: 360 people, 86 who bike, 274 who walk
Thanks to our volunteers!
Traffic along 571 in downtown West Windsor flowed freely throughout the observation time, except for 3 minutes at 5:30pm – this is consistent with last year, which congested for 4 minutes at 6:00pm. Honks were also consistent at 11 this and last year, while the number of semi trucks rose by 2 to 7 this year. One of the honks was to encourage a right turn on red from Wallace to 571, which both the honker and honkee proceeded to do, illegally – an additional sign at the corner would aid in getting the message out. I was honked at from behind a few weeks ago while waiting on my bike at Wallace, but just pointed up at the No Turn On Red sign overhead.
- midblock crossings of 571 at Rite Aid driveway – 10
- male – 261, female – 99
- walkers – 274, cyclists – 86
- walkers – 187 male, 87 female
- cyclists – 74 male, 10 female
Thursday, September 10 by joegorun
On Sept 12 the West Windsor Bike Fest 2015 will be held at Community Park. 7, 11, 20 and 40 mi ride options. Rain date Sunday, 9/13. See http://www.westwindsornj.org/recreation/ for more information.
Thursday, July 16 by joegorun
Bring your used bicycles Sept 19 to the WW Farmers Market. WWBPA will be collecting used bicycles to donate and support the Trenton Boys and Girls Club. Tax deductible donations.
Monday, May 18 by joegorun
The Ride of Silence is an international event, taking place every year around the globe at the same local time. This ride aims to raise awareness of cyclists on the road, as well as remember those who have been victims of bicycle/motor vehicle accidents. As per the global guidelines, we will depart from the WW Municipal Parking Lot at 7:00 p.m. for a silent 10 mile slow ride. Cruising speed will be 10-12 mph max. We will have a police escort. The event is free. Please bring a working bicycle. Helmets required. More info on the history and international event at www.rideofsilence.org. Rain or shine. Wednesday, May 20: Ride of Silence:.
Saturday, May 16 by joegorun
On Sunday, May 17, 2015, if you are an adult and have always wanted to learn how to ride your bike, this is your day.
Join the WWBPA for its annual Adult Learn to Bike Event. The event is for adults 18 or older who want help to learn how to ride a bicycle. Meet at the upper Vaughn Parking Lot (the newly created lot near the PJ train station) at 10:00 a.m-12pm. Pre-registration/RSVP via email is suggested; you must bring a bike in good working order and a helmet (or you can purchase a helmet if needed). Cost is $40 per family and free to current members of WWBPA as of June 1, 2014. Email email@example.com and watch our Facebook page and website (wwbpa.org) for late changes.
Tuesday, May 12 by joegorun
Join the West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance for its annual Learn to Bike Event on May 16, 2015. The event is for children who must be 5 years old or older and be able to ride a bike with training wheels. Meet at the West Windsor Community Farmers’ Market between 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.; the event ends promptly at 12:30 p.m. Pre-registration is suggested; you must bring a bike in good working order and a helmet. Cost is $40 per family and free to current members of WWBPA as of June 1, 2014. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and watch our Facebook page and website (wwbpa.org) for late changes.
Friday, May 1 by joegorun
The West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance is organizing its sixth annual Walk to the Farmers’ Market to mark the opening day of the market on May 2, at 9 a.m.
This free, family-friendly walk is open to people of all ages, and those in wheelchairs and strollers as well.
Meet us at the back of Maurice Hawk School, 303-305 Clarksville Road at 9 a.m. Our mile-long walk will take us to Berrien Avenue on the school path, and then to Alexander Road. We then cross Alexander Road and Wallace Road and continue over the roundabout to Vaughn Drive, where we will proceed to the Farmers’ Market and the WWBPA table.
If you can’t join us for the walk, you can still visit our table at the market. We’ll be there every other week starting with the first week of the market.
Hope to see you there!
Thursday, April 9 by joegorun
On Sunday, April 26, 2015, at 1pm the WWBPA Student Advisors will be leading a bike ride for anyone 12 years or older beginning at the East Parking Lot along Edinburg Rd in Mercer County Park. 13 or 19 mile roundtrip options. Check in at 12:45pm. Bike Ride 1-3pm. Free event. No pre-registration required. Helmets and a functioning bicycle are mandatory. Organized by the West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance. Please fill out and print the waiver. Anyone under 18 must have the waiver signed by a parent or guardian.
Community Bike Ride 4_26_2015 Flyer
Download and Print: Community Bike Waiver April 26, 2015
Friday, February 27 by JerryFoster
Let’s face it – many people perceive bicyclists as arrogant. Let’s look at one too-typical letter to the editor, where someone leads off with the arrogance charge, and see if we can determine the causes and underlying assumptions of this perception.
This letter to the editor of The Press of Atlantic City appeared in June 2012, and reads in full:
“Arrogant bicyclists endanger us all on roads.
It’s that time of the year again. Yup, the bicyclists are out in mass, riding two abreast and showing no respect for anyone’s vehicle except their own. They choose to ride on narrow two-lane roads with very narrow shoulders, which forces them into the auto lanes and is extremely dangerous for all.
Our county, township and state have spent thousands of dollars to construct bike paths for the many cyclists out there, so why do they have to infringe on our roadways?
I know we are supposed to share the road. But it’s not sharing the road when I and other drivers have to slow down and cross the median strip so that these clowns can talk to each other while out for their morning cruise.
If the above was not the norm, I could live with these arrogant bike riders. But most of them ride like they own the road. They actually taunt us to hit them. They run red lights, do not stop for walkers in the crossing lane, and get obnoxious when questioned about their actions.
I know that the police have more important things to do other than policing these bike riders, but something has to be done before someone is seriously injured by these cyclists’ callous actions.”
So, let’s look at the NJ laws that apply to bicycling on the road. Riding two abreast is permissible under NJ law (39:40-14.2) – “Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway may travel no more than two abreast when traffic is not impeded…”
Also, bicyclists are required to ride in what the writer calls the “auto lane” – (39:40-14.2) “Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable” where 39:1-1 defines “‘Roadway’ means that portion of a highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the berm or shoulder.” The NJ Supreme Court ruled “a bicycle rider is directed to ride on the furthest right hand side of the roadway, not on the roadway’s shoulder.”
Perhaps in ignorance of the law, the writer believes that cars belong on the road and bicyclists don’t, e.g. “auto lane,” “infringe on our roadways.”
The writer complains that cyclists use the road even though “Our county, township and state have spent thousands of dollars to construct bike paths.” Implicit is the idea that cyclists don’t belong on the road because of the mistaken notion that only motorists pay taxes for bike paths and roads, e.g. “like they own the road.”
Also implicit is the idea that a motorist’s reason for being on the road is more important than the cyclists’ “morning cruise.”
There’s selective perception that cyclists disobey the law, e.g. “They run red lights, do not stop for walkers in the crossing lane,” implying that no motorist would ever do those same things.
The effect on the writer is “when I and other drivers have to slow down and cross the median strip.”
The writer imputes negative intentions to cyclists’ actions, e.g. “showing no respect for anyone’s vehicle except their own,” “They actually taunt us to hit them,” and “get obnoxious when questioned about their actions.”
The writer notes “something has to be done before someone is seriously injured by these cyclists’ callous actions,” perhaps not realizing that it is almost certainly the cyclists themselves who will be hurt in the event of a crash, not a motorist.
Unfortunately, the sentiments expressed by the writer are all too common, and build from ignorance to at least implicitly justify violence, all for the inconvenience of having to slow down and move over to pass. In the event of “serious injury” the writer will blame the victims, since the cause is “these cyclists’ callous actions.”
Perhaps you’re thinking to yourself – “this blogger is one of those arrogant cyclists.” Since we’re looking at calling other people arrogant, for a working definition let’s use “behaving in a way that makes me think you believe you are superior.” I’ll respectfully suggest that others’ “arrogant behavior” is highly dependent on your own social and cultural values and expectations, and that sometimes just acting equal is enough to be called arrogant – like riding a bike in the roadway. Thoughts?
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